QuickBooks expense reimbursements via the Write Check method have always had one fatal flaw when it comes to how third party apps integrate with this functionality. The fact is, in virtually all of the QuickBooks-compatible expense reporting packages, it’s a “one and done” process. Once you send over a reimbursement check to QuickBooks, most packages won’t let you update, revise, or edit that check, if you discover some additional reimbursements that you’d like to add.
The result? You end up printing out two reimbursement checks to the employee (or worse, 3 or 4), as you receive and approve additional expenses that you weren’t expecting. Handling multiple checks is inconvenient for you, it’s not eco-friendly, and it’s a mess for the employee as well.
Expense Reimbursements via Splits – Cost Allocation is Crucial
There is a better way. To see the light at the end of the tunnel, start with the fact that checks are divided into split lines (“SPL” lines for you old timers) and imagine that you have an expense reimbursement check written to one of your employees.
First you’ll notice the Payee, the amount, and memo fields. But look closer, and you’ll notice that your reimbursement is really divided into one or more line items that “explain” the cost allocation in a more granular manner than the overall check.
To illustrate the purpose of “splits” for cost allocation, imagine that you have an employee that spent $50.00 on a Meals & Entertainment expense, and $20.00 on an Office Supplies expense:
You wouldn’t want to simply write a check for $70.00 without filling out two separate splits therein, because you would inevitably mischaracterize the available tax deduction — you’d either categorize the whole thing as Meals & Entertainment (likely characterizing the $70.00 as 50% tax deductible), or you’d categorize the whole thing as Office Supplies (characterizing the $70.00 as 100% tax deductible). Either way, you’ve mis-characterized the components of the expense, and therefore created an error at tax time.
Have we convinced you that your reimbursement checks surely need to be broken out into split lines, for cost allocation purposes? I hope so, but if not, leave a comment and ask a question.
Appending QuickBooks Expense Reimbursements to Existing Unprinted Checks
If you buy into our position that cost allocation via splits is crucial, then you are halfway to becoming a fan of our “Append Reimbursements to Existing Unprinted Checks” feature (we know, it’s a mouthful). See, if you already agree that splits are the only reasonable and correct way to handle an expense reimbursement check that is in response to multiple expenses filed by the recipient, then you are ready to ask the question “what do I do when I realize I overlooked one expense that I should have included?”
The answer, of course (presuming you haven’t yet printed the check):
…is to add an additional Split line with the initially forgotten expense, thereby raising the total of the reimbursement check, while correctly characterizing the cost allocation via the split.
That Sounds Obvious – Do All QuickBooks Compatible Expense Apps do This?
Sounds like an obvious way to rectify the fact that an expense was initially overlooked, right? We think so.
So, do all apps that do QuickBooks expense reimbursements take advantage of this technique, helping you append additional expenses to existing unprinted checks? No way.
Why don’t other packages do this? Well, lets start with the IIF crowd (beware of apps that rely on IIF files). Any expense app that has you exporting IIF files and importing the IIF files into QuickBooks, will be hard pressed to do any kind of interactive updates like the ones necessary for this scenario. Think about it: the app would have to somehow know that the previously exported reimbursement check is still unprinted at the current point in time (no way that an IIF app could know that!). Second: it has to find a way to gracefully modify the existing check by appending the necessary additional line items (even if you’ve modified the check since it’s initial filing). No way that’s happening with an IIF app, either!
What about other cloud-connected expense apps – do they do this? Not that we know of. The concept of not only conveying expense information from a 3rd party app into QuickBooks, but then later syncing that information back to the app, surgically modifying part of the transaction, and then issuing the check modification to QuickBooks – is enough to make all but the most sophisticated QuickBooks compatible app head for the break room.
ProOnGo to the Rescue
With ProOnGo, given our connectivity to Intuit’s secure cloud, you can do exactly what this scenario calls for. You can:
- Start by checkmarking “Append Reimbursements to Existing Unprinted Checks” in ProOnGo’s Settings => QuickBooks tab (you’ll probably want to leave this turned on permanently)
- Then, approve an employee’s expenses in ProOnGo, and send-to-QuickBooks as a Write Check (just follow the prompts, our app walks you through the process)
- Then, later, approve an additional expense from the same employee, and again send to QuickBooks
- As long as you didn’t yet Print the check mentioned in step 2, your additional transactions will be appended to the initial check, so that it’s nice and tidy. It will now contain the original and the new expense splits all within the same check.
Check out the video to see this sequence in action, and always, let us know if you think of ways that we can make your QuickBooks expense reimbursements even easier. Note that although the video shows off this technique using QuickBooks Pro 2013, we’re compatible with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro (at least back to 2009), QuickBooks Enterprise, and QuickBooks Premier (we thought about filming this video on all four, but that gets pretty repetitive).